After years of anticipation and research, not to mention writing (obbbviously), I’ve finally started to submit my novel to agents! Huzzah! It’s about damn time I got to this stage in the game! I’ve only sent it to five agents so far, and have heard nothing back, but I’ve informed myself enough to know that this is perfectly normal, and that I should anticipate truckloads of heartbreak.
Thankfully, I have plan in place to prevent me from becoming a nervous wreck during this process. That plan is called starting a new novel! I’ve heard it said numerous times that writers should always be working on the next thing while querying, and that’s not an issue for me, since I feel like a soggy pouch of feces whenever I’m not working on something. This is true in ordinary times, but now that the planet is rapidly devolving into COVID madness, it’s even more pertinent. Reading and writing make the perfect escape tactic. Especially writing, because unlike with ordinary escapism, I always find myself inadvertently working through the things I’m trying to avoid. It’s free therapy that doesn’t make you want to cry!
And so, I’ve been plotting. “Are you a plotter or a panster?” writers love to ask each other. Meaning, do you plot out your stories first, or do you fly by the seat of your pants? I’m a bit of a hybrid in the dichotomy. I diligently plan, then as soon I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) all hell breaks loose and I diverge so far from the plan it’s as if it never existed. You’d think by now I would have learned not to bother with the plotting part, but to me, plotting is a necessary part of the process, whether I actually use the blueprint or not. It’s essentially a detailed brainstorm that describes one of the many possible outcomes that might sprout from my seedling of an idea.
Still, I do harbor secret hopes that I’ll one day learn to stick to the plan and avoid the meandering side streets that often lead nowhere. I do love the process of discovery, but I also know that I’ve written two novels so far, and that each of them took 2 or 3 years. Life is only so long, and I have no time to waste if I ever want to accomplish my goal of being traditionally published.
So far, I’ve got a protagonist, and antagonist, and a variety of minor characters who are quickly becoming much more important than I’d anticipated. Each of these characters has a backstory, and these backstories are slowly interweaving their way into a possible plot. Is it convoluted? Yes, absolutely. I’m still working through it, hoping a clear path will emerge and cut through the chaos, straight to the heart of the story. I have faith that it will. It always does.